A Level Business Studies


General Certificate of Education in Business Studies


AQA: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/business/as-and-a-level/business-7131-7132

Course Description

Business Studies as a subject will inspire, motivate and challenge learning. It provides an insight into, and experience of, how businesses work, stimulating curiosity and encouraging students to engage with commerce in their everyday lives.

The subject is relevant to the modern and changing world of business and many universities now recognise the value of a business qualification.

A-level Business Studies helps students:

  • develop a critical understanding of organisations, the markets they serve and the process of adding value
  • be aware that business behaviour can be studied from the perspectives of a range of stakeholders
  • acquire a range of skills including decision-making and problem-solving
  • be aware of the current structure of business and business practice.

Students of this course should study business in a variety of contexts (eg large/small, UK focused/global, service/manufacturing) and consider:

  • the importance of the context of business in relation to decision making
  • the interrelated nature of business activities and how they affect competitiveness
  • the competitive environment and the markets in which businesses operate
  • the influences on functional decisions and plans including ethical and environmental issues
  • the factors that might determine whether a decision is successful eg the quality of data and the degree of uncertainty
  • how technology is changing the way decisions are made and how businesses operate and compete
  • the impact on stakeholders of functional decisions and their response to such decisions
  • use of non-quantitative and quantitative data in decision making (including the interpretation of index numbers and calculations such as ratios and percentages).

The course covers a range of topics however some topics are only studies in the second year of the course. These topics are listed below.

  1. What is business?
  2. Managers, leadership and decision making
  3. Decision making to improve marketing performance
  4. Decision making to improve operational performance
  5. Decision making to improve financial performance
  6. Decision making to improve human resource performance
  7. Analysing the strategic position of a business (A-level only)
  8. Choosing strategic direction (A-level only)
  9. Strategic methods: how to pursue strategies (A-level only)
  10. Managing strategic change (A-level only)

The study of strategic decision making should build on the study of decision making in the functional areas.

Students should consider:

  • the impact of technology on strategic decision making
  • the influences of Corporate Social Responsibility, ethical and environmental issues on strategic decisions
  • the difficulties in forecasting future trends
  • the importance of assessing feasibility and risk when making strategic decisions
  • the impact on stakeholders of strategic decisions and their response to such decisions.

The topics lend themselves to studying and engaging with the business world. The specification and assessment should encourage students to follow business developments and think critically about contemporary business issues. Most of the assessment material is based on real business situations. By examining and thinking critically about real business situations as they study the subject, students will gain an insight into different contexts which will help them to understand the key issues in any situation and compare and contrast this with other situations and apply their understanding.

Students will study a two year A2 style qualification structure, but will take AS level examinations at the end of Year 1 as they may opt to continue with three subjects going into the second year. Details of the examinations are shown below:



Paper 1: Business 1
What's assessed
All content above
  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 100 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level
Three compulsory sections:
  • Section A has 15 multiple choice questions (MCQs) worth 15 marks.
  • Section B has short answer questions worth 35 marks.
  • Sections C and D have two essay questions (choice of one from two and one from two) worth 25 marks each.

Paper 2: Business 2
What's assessed
All content above
  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 100 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level
Three data response compulsory questions worth approximately 33 marks each and made up of three or four part questions

Paper 3: Business 3
What's assessed
All content above
  • written exam: 2 hours
  • 100 marks in total
  • 33.3% of A-level
One compulsory case study followed by approximately six questions

Before the qualification can be awarded, students must undertake all the assessments.

Entry Requirements

To study at Level 3, you will need a Grade 5 in both GCSE English and GCSE Mathematics plus three other GCSE or equivalent qualifications.

Although there are no prior learning requirements, students who have studied GCSE in Business Studies will find that this specification builds on the concepts and skills that they have learnt.

Leads to

This qualification forms part of the entry requirements for progression to higher education or employment. The qualification can be counted as points or grades for entry.

Potential Careers

Students with AS or Advanced GCE Business Studies have access to a wide range of possible career and higher education opportunities. Careers include: Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing & Sales, Operations & Administration. However an understanding of the business world will be useful in any career choice. Business Studies students can go onto study a range of related disciplines at university such as: Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Economics and Business Systems & Administration In addition Business studies sits alongside a wide variety of other subjects that can be taken as joint honours degrees. Popular choices include Science and Business, Business and IT, Maths and Finance, Management with Leisure, Sport or Fashion and Law with Business. Careers in Banking, Accountancy, Insurance, Sales, Marketing and even Human Resources are all likely destinations for Business students, either before or after a degree course at a university.

Student Comment

"I chose to study Business Studies as I am passionate about business and want to be an entrepreneur when I graduate from University. I was inspired to study business studies and follow other successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Steve Jobs."

Revision Resources